By Vincent David
ISLAMABAD, Feb 11 (APP):Despite having numerous magnificent records to their credit and ruling the world in Blind Cricket, Pakistani jobless blind cricketers are being paid just chicken feed by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), making their living impossible.
Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC), body conducting cricketing activities of the visually-impaired players, pays only Rs 12,000 per month to its A category central contracted players which is just nothing as compared to the amount offered to national men and women cricket teams.
Talking to APP, Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) Chairman Syed Sultan Shah said, “Rs 35 million budget was requested to PCB and we were paid only Rs 16.5 million through which salaries to officials, central contracts to players and chunk of heavy amount on holding national tournaments is also incurred.”
He said an annual increase in PBCC’s budget should also be made like national cricket team and added they did not get any increase for many years which was injustice to a team that brought many laurels to the country.
After timeless struggle, the PBCC managed to acquire the first-ever cricket stadium for the visually impaired players in Lahore which has been under construction for more than three years now.
“The work on the stadium is at last stages of completion which requires grant from Punjab Government. We had contacted Punjab Sports Minister Rai Taimoor Bhatti and he assured us that the funds for the stadium will be released soon but it has been 5 months now and we have not received even a single penny,” Sultan said.
PBCC has also formed it’s first-ever women blind cricket team led by Rabia Shahzadi and Aneela Shahzadi to be her deputy. “It is an historic moment for world blind women cricket and will go a long way,” Sultan said and the team is playing against Nepal women’s team in the first series.
Pakistan is also the main supplier of blind cricket balls to the playing nations including Australia, England, Nepal, India and also supplying balls for One Day and Twenty20 World Cups.
Pakistan Blind men’s and women’s cricket team coach, Nafees Ahmed, said at least the blind cricketers should be provided central contracts equivalent to the national women cricketers.
“As a cricket team we have more achievements than other teams which should be noted. At least Rs 40,000 should be paid to A category blind cricket player,” he said.
He said our players give their best in and off the field but when they think about how to run their homes from the money they get through the game, they feel depressed and disappointed.
“The money, central contracts or match fees etc should be given accordingly on performance basis,” he said adding if not to all then at least handsome money based central contracts should be provided to those 30 players who perform best in the game.
PBCC Director Media, Asif Azeem, said the blind cricketers’ need jobs and money to run their homes. “We have been showing a blasting performance in the game but there is no recognition of us,” he said.
“If PCB does not make a cut in the budget we send to them then we can easily manage our affairs. In fiscal year 2017-18 we had sent a budget request of Rs 34 million but we got Rs 16 million and for fiscal year 2018-19 we got Rs 16.5 million from the board while we had sent a request of Rs 30 million,” he said.
The green-shirts which still lack a facility of their own at home have various records in their kitty including the highest score by an individual blind player Masood Jaan 262 against South Africa at Delhi in 1998 which was also the national blind team’s highest score of 376; Ashraf Bhatti’s fastest century on 37 balls against New Zealand at Delhi in 1998; Abdul Razzaq’s fastest fifty on 17 balls against Australia at Delhi in 1998.
Moreover, in the very first Test match the Pakistan team scored 721 runs for the loss of eight wickets against South Africa in 2000. Pakistan Blind cricket team holds the record to reach in the final of all the three editions of Blind Cricket World Cups (One-Day Cricket).
Pakistan blind cricket team definitely needs attention of the higher authorities in case of a stadium or financially otherwise it would fade like other our games did in which we had ruled the world.